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NK:IO Ltd.. (7/25/23). "Press Release: NK:IO Raises £1.2M, Bringing Total Seed Funding to £5.1M, to Advance Pioneering NK Cell Therapy". London.

Organisations Organisation NK:IO Ltd.
  Organisation 2 Cancer Research Horizons Seed Fund
  Group Cancer Research UK (CRUK) (Group)
Products Product NK cell therapy (natural killer cell therapy)
  Product 2 venture capital
Index terms Index term NK:IO–SEVERAL: investment, 202307 seed financing round extension £1.2m bringing total seed equity funding to £3.2m
  Index term 2 NK:IO–United Kingdom (govt): grant, 202307– Innovate UK grant £1.6m from New Cancer Therapeutics programme
Persons Person Thompson, Keith (United Kingdom (govt) 201204– CEO of Cell Therapy Catapult before SNBTS)
  Person 2 Romanos, Mike (Microbiotica 201612– CEO + Co-Founder before Crescendo Biologics CEO before CSO before GSK)

> New investment of £1.2M brings total Seed funding to £5.1M including Innovate UK grants of £1.9M

> Investment led by Cancer Research Horizons, the innovation engine at the core of Cancer Research UK

> Recent Innovate UK New Cancer Therapeutics grant award of £1.6M enables progression into development in collaboration with Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult

NK:IO, a leader in natural killer (NK) cell biology applied to the development of exceptionally potent, off-the-shelf cell therapies targeting solid tumours, has raised £1.2M. This brings total equity financing to £3.2M and will enable the company to reach key milestones in progressing its differentiated NK cell therapy candidates into development. The £3.2M equity funding is in addition to £1.9M grants awarded comprising the recent Innovate UK New Cancer Therapeutics award of £1.6M and a previous Innovate UK Accelerator grant of £300,000. The current investment round was led by Cancer Research Horizons (through its Seed Fund) and included the Imperial College Enterprise Fund, Start Codon, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund and Meltwind.

NK:IO is based on pioneering discoveries in NK cell biology from Hugh J M Brady, Professor of Immunology and Matt Fuchter, Professor of Chemistry, at Imperial College. NK:IO is exploiting these in its unique platform which activates blood stem cell progenitors to yield industry-leading NK cell tumour-killing potency and very high yield cell production, which it believes will be transformative in cancer cell therapy. In addition, this platform enables efficient engineering of progenitor cells to enable the production of next-generation NK cells for further increases in potency or tumour targeting, which NK:IO is progressing for certain hard to treat tumour subtypes.

The company was founded in December 2020 by Hugh J M Brady, Matt Fuchter, and Mike Romanos, an experienced industry executive and entrepreneur. The Board is chaired by Keith Thompson CBE, former CEO of the UK’s Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. The company’s first indication targeted will be ovarian cancer, in collaboration with Prof. Iain McNeish, Professor of Oncology at Imperial College, Director of the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre and a leading expert in the field.

The investment will be used to drive NK:IO’s cell therapy candidates through full pre-clinical testing. This includes development of a manufacturing process in collaboration with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, whose mission is to support the UK’s cell and gene therapy industry.

Mike Romanos, Co-Founder and Interim CEO, said: “We are very excited by the potential of NK:IO’s platform to address unmet needs in cancer cell therapy, including solid tumours, and to revolutionise the field. We are delighted by the support of our investors, including Cancer Research Horizons, who have joined to lead the round. Our recent success in securing non-dilutive funding under Innovate UK’s ‘New Cancer Therapeutics’ program further endorses this vision.”

Tony Hickson, Chief Business Officer at Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Horizons, commented: “Cancer Research Horizons believes that NK:IO’s technology, based on pioneering research from Imperial College, has transformational potential for cancer patients. We are delighted to support the company’s progression and excited to work with the team as they progress to the clinic.”

For further information about NK:IO please visit:


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact:
Zyme Communications
Katie Odgaard, Account Director
Tel: +44 (0)7787 502 947

About NK:IO

The company is developing ground-breaking NK cell therapies based on its platform built on pioneering research from Professors Hugh Brady and Matthew Fuchter at Imperial College. This yields industry-leading NK cell tumour-killing potency and cell production, overcoming the fundamental barriers to therapeutic application of NK cell therapy, and allowing the targeting of solid tumours. NK:IO is progressing its pipeline, initially in ovarian cancer, but is also open to collaboration in certain areas.

The company was co-founded by Hugh JM Brady, Matthew Fuchter and Mike Romanos and its Board is chaired by Keith Thompson CBE, former CEO of the Cell & Gene Therapy Catapult. NK:IO’s seed investors include the Imperial College Enterprise Fund, Start Codon, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund and Meltwind.

About Cancer Research Horizons

Cancer Research Horizons is the innovation engine of Cancer Research UK – one of the world’s largest charitable funders of cancer research. We bring together world-leading minds, bold ideas and the right partners to bridge the gap between academic research and taking drugs to market. We focus on the tougher, more profound ideas that can lead to true innovation, translating them into effective treatments and diagnostics for cancer patients. To date, we've played an instrumental role in forming over 65 startup companies. We've helped bring 11 cancer drugs to market, borne out of Cancer Research UK's pioneering research. Through these drugs, we have enabled in excess of 6 million courses of treatment for cancer patients across the world. With access to Cancer Research UK's network of 4,000 exceptional researchers, and £300+ million of annual research spend, we're a powerful partner in the fight to conquer cancer.

By uniting our commercial partnerships and therapeutic innovation capabilities, Cancer Research Horizons is uniquely placed to support translational funding, licensing and collaboration, startup creation, and offer a full spectrum of drug discovery and clinical capabilities. Every penny we make goes back into funding the next bold steps, to help bring forward the day when all cancers are conquered.

For more information and to get in touch with the team, visit

* Our Cancer Research Horizons Seed Fund is an impact-driven, evergreen, venture philanthropy fund is an impact-driven, evergreen, venture philanthropy fund investing in promising early-stage opportunities worldwide, which builds on over 25 years of Cancer Research Horizons establishing and growing successful startup companies. We invest in early-stage startup propositions and companies to bridge the gap between innovative ideas, and treatments, diagnostics and medical devices, to bring forward the day when all cancers are conquered. Our venture build and portfolio investments benefit from the support of our dedicated team and access to expert networks. Our aim is to grow this fund to £30m, currently backed by a commitment of £15m from Cancer Research UK.

Record changed: 2024-01-20


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